“Halloween was your holiday,” a friend writes in a text message.
Well, yes, it really was. Dearly departed Joe and I loved Halloween, and it was decreed before Cole was born that he would love everything about the holiday too. Perhaps we decreed a little too firmly. From Cole’s first Halloween going forward, he embraced everything Halloween and needed several costumes and pounds of candy to celebrate appropriately each year.
That time has passed.
Halloween this year is coming and going without so much as a school costume. I missed standing in line at a 24-hour Halloween costume shop at midnight with my teen, picking up some special touch for the school costume that would not be complete without the flourish. (Yes, Chicago has 24-hour costume shops the week of Halloween, thank God. We made many late-night trips over the years.)
Halloween decorations are packed away on the basement shelves. I considered pitching them this year. (I’m not a saver.) I went down to the basement with the best of intentions and was drowned with memories as I opened each box. Witches that flew across our ceiling, a Frankenstein’s monster that graced the front entrance, and a skeleton that danced in his bones from the ceiling all greeted me like old ghouls. How could I be so heartless as to consider discarding them like old cardboard cutouts?
I pull out the grinning skeleton.
Oh hi. Yes, I remember. The Halloween party was over, the guests had departed. Joe went in to change clothes while I put away food. Moments later, “The Monster Mash” was blaring and Joe, in just his skin and a witch’s caldron on his head, was shaking about, with the skeleton wearing only his bones—a Halloween sight to behold, and not soon forgotten. (Did I mention our Halloween parties included martinis for the grownups?)
Next, I pulled out our Frankenstein’s monster. He’s well past his prime, and the repairs I’ve made over the years are glaring. Long gone are the days he used to scare kids up into their parents’ laps. However, after years of faithful service, I can hardly toss him aside.
Along with the skeleton and Frankenstein’s monster are 100 witches tangled together with the dental floss strings that flew them around the ceiling. They were hand-me-down witches from a friend’s Halloween party. Our living room ceiling still has souvenir tape to remind us of their Halloween flights.
Looking over the boxes, I consider that I could pitch the contents and savor the wealth of memories. But this year I’ll keep both.
Last night I dreamed of chili. Joe made chili every Halloween. During chili preparation, Cole and I would have to stand outside to relieve our burning eyes while chili peppers were roasted to perfection. The chili was too spicy for most of our Halloween guests to eat. However, with death comes forgetfulness, and now everyone remembers “Joe’s chili” as the best chili ever. Really. It wasn’t. But it was tradition.
It’s a cold Halloween in Chicago. We’ve had light snow and wind all day. The last of the fall leaves have fallen. The trick-or-treaters will have to dress warmly as they swarm out into the neighborhoods. I think we’ll make a big pot of chili for the weekend and eat all the left over candy.
Odd Loves Company,